Old whatshisname

Welcome to almost November.

Am I non-empathetic when I put a test question that challenges the student’s math skills? I was called mean. Made my day.

Ssanyways, how’s everyone liking the new world order under old whatshisname?


Is it just me, or is he finally ageing? Either his makeup team took the day off for this photo, or the mounting pressure of office is getting to the old guy.



Google maps

Google is tracking me. Maybe it’s for my own good.

Setup: driving to Langley. She’s driving and I am co-piloting. Google maps is providing the real-time navigation instructions. Using a nice feminine voice. “Stay in the right lane. At the next exit, keep right at the fork.”

My girlfriend notes the feminine voice. “Why do you have a woman for your navigation assistant?” she says, not overly impressed. I muttered something or other under my breath, not wanting to stir up any misunderstandings. You get my drift.

Minutes later, we arrive at our destination. My knuckles are white and I am biting my tongue. You get my drift.

Under my breath (so I think) I mutter “I think I’m going crazy.”

“Actually, thinking you are going crazy is a good sign that you are not. Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia have no awareness of their condition.” says Google maps, in her cheery voice.

Thanks Google. That cheered me up.






The Groundhogs Nailed It

You got to hand it to the groundhogs. Yesterday was Groundhog day, and here in Metro Vancouver it was gorgeous. The groundhog must have seen his shadow, and look at what that foretold.


February 3, 2017, 7 cm of snow in North Vancouver.

Coincidence? Or Alternative Facts?

Speaking of predictions and Alternative Facts, my favourite predicted winner, old President Whatshisname, seems to have created an entire department devoted to the subject of Alternative Facts. His new press secretary Spicer possibly gets many of his facts from the three F’s: Fox News, Facebook and Fantasy. At least that’s better than the three K’s. Additionally, good old Kellyann must be drinking the same punch as Spicer.




PIDP 3240 – Week 2

Welcome my new and improved blog.  The new part is its theme. Now it is “PIDP 3240 – Media Enhanced Learning”.

Conveniently, I have already set up this blog for previous PIDP assignments, so it will (hopefully) be of improved quality.

I promise to rant about at least ONE thing in every post. Ranting is fun, if you don’t take it too seriously. Try it.

April 30 2012 import photos 236
photo by John Powszedny 2010

In past posts, I have predicted victory for old whatshisname in the US presidential thingy. With 29 shopping days before the big vote, am not quite as sure,  but whatever.  Am sticking to it. Just want to see how this wall idea will work out, and if Slick Willy will visit HRC in jail regularly.

photo by John Powszedny 2013

This new course I am taking, PIDP 3240, is all about media stuff. Some of the requirements include using ooVoo. If you are like me, you groan “OoVoo? What the heck is ooVoo?  Another social media thingy? Do you have to capitalize it at the beginning of a sentence?”

Before anyone gets all uppity or downnity, I am not living in the stoneage. (I have used a computer for decades, and have had skype, facebook, youtube, linkedin, and google+ accounts for years).  But after reading the userpolicy for ooVoo, I balked. We will see if I can pass the course on skype alone.

photo by John Powszedny 2015

For assignment 1, I need to buy the Bowen book for Teaching Naked. I hope, and so should you, that it is not an instructional book for nude instructors. That is not what I signed up for.

For assignment 2,  I plan on contributing regularly to the forums, and of course this blog will be updated every few days, or whenever I feel the need to rant about something.

For assignment 3, I choose “Option 4 – Conduct Interviews and write an Essay on Results – 30% “.  I could go along with the theme of social media this and that, but think that I would learn the most by conducting three interviews with some of my experienced peers and could write a decent 1500 word essay. Yes this is the low tech route.

For assignment 4, I choose Option 3 – Create an Online Animated Presentation – 30%     As a contrast to my low tech assignment 3, I want to make an online animated presentation for assignment 4.  I have made a few in past PIDP courses, and my skills at using Powerpoint have increased to the point where the presentations have some power.  Okay yeah I know that was lame but this is a blog, not the Globe and Mail.

And one last thing. I have avoided using Twitter for years. Just because. Well I joined Twitter today. Spread the news. @whathisname999 . Hashtag or whatever that one.


PIDP 3260 Week 8 Blog

Featured image by John Powszedny 2011


My Digital Project Link: 


PIDP Course Summary for John Powszedny


PIDP is the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma Program in the Province of British Columbia. It is the provincial standard for adult educators. For more information:  http://www.vcc.ca/media/vancouver-community-college/content-assets/documents/programs/provincial-instructor-participant-handbook.pdf

As a new instructor, I want to become fully qualified by completing the program as quickly and effectively as possible. I don’t really like having to take all of these courses (it adds to the burden of life), but nothing worthwhile is easy. At present, I am completing my 6th of 8 required courses for the program. Below is a spreadsheet outlining my progress.

Summary of PIDP Courses Taken to Date







8/22/2015 BCIT 3220 Loretta B+ Instructional Skills Workshop
2/2/2016 VCC Online 3100 Glenn B+ Foundations of Adult Education
2/2/2016 VCC Online 3250 Doug B Instructional Strategies
5/1/2016 BCIT 3210 Jaquie B+ Curriculum Development
6/1/2016 VCC Online 3230 Jeff A- Evaluation of Learning
8/1/2016 VCC Online 3260 Karen Ongoing Professional Practice

The most important things I have learned thus far by taking these courses are:

  • How to blog (PIDP 3100)
  • Curriculum development – balancing need, content, and delivery (PIDP 3210)
  • Public speaking and course delivery (PIDP 3220 – known as Instructional Skills Workshop at BCIT)
  • Formal and informal assessments (PIDP 3230)
  • Engagement of students (PIDP 3250)
  • Be myself, and be able to take criticism as a method to improve (PIDP 3260)

How my thinking has changed:

  • I am a softer, gentler instructor. My mantra used to be “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”  Not the best stance for an instructor. Now I am more patient with students, and I genuinely want them to succeed.
  • Unfortunately, my past method of handling criticism, by reflecting it, doesn’t work with sensitive students. So I have had to tone down my sarcasm a bit.
  • My initial feedback from student evaluations was more negative than positive. In fact it was very bad. My motto at the time was that I was only going to get better, because I can’t get any worse. I learned from the evaluations, and have cut down on in-class videos and instead focus on teaching and practicing.

What actions I will take based on what I have learned:

  • I plan on continuously giving out evaluation forms, and will make them available to all students for feedback. I will run it like a suggestion box.
  • I plan on preparing better for class
  • Fortunately, my days as a PIDP student will be OVER by the new year, which should leave me with some spare time to prepare better.
  • Soon, I will take PIDP 3240 “Media Enhanced Learning”, PIDP 3270 “Capstone Project”, and ta-da I will be done.  The light is finally showing at the end of the tunnel.
DSC00268photo by John Powszedny 2014

PIDP 3260 Week 7 Blog


Cure for Hiccups

Well it looks like summer is over. For about the past week things seemed a tad cooler.

But for many of us, the end of summer means the beginning of the school year. This past week, a new batch of students began the roll-out of our revamped instrumentation program. As for any new and improved program, there may be a few hiccups along the way.

Fortunately, I have a cure for hiccups;

  • plug your ears with your thumbs
  • plug your nostrils with your pinkies
  • keep your mouth closed and swallow three times

It looks ridiculous, but it works. The science is that you are creating an internal vacuum which pops your diaphragm back, and your hiccups stop. It worked with one of my new students this past week. Just remember you read it here first.


“Two Mikes” photo by John Powszedny 2007

Digital Project – PIDP 3260 Assignment 5

  photo by John Powszedny 2016

My digital project link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx1fWA1YiQ

Not guaranteeing that it is the most riveting video you will ever watch. However, I did come to some conclusions while making it;

  • Instruction, including delivery and assignments, should be continuously improved
  • Student feedback is important to aid in continuous improvement of instruction
  • Student feedback is easy to get

Lifelong Learning as a Professional

As an adult, I have been continuously learning. I have often remarked that it is important to learn something new every day, and that a day you don’t learn something is a day wasted.

Straight out of high school, I went to BCIT and earned a diploma, but learned pretty quick that my diploma wasn’t the finish line in the life-long marathon of learning.

My first few jobs taught me a lot. Like the fact that I didn’t research the job market very well when choosing a program to take. It turned out that the salary for my specialty was fairly low, and that it would take four more years of studying to get to the next level. And, I didn’t really like the work.

Defeated, I changed careers and went to work in a pulp mill. After a few years  I won an apprenticeship in a career I really wanted. The apprenticeship lasted five years, the work was enjoyable, and the salary was much better.

After successfully completing my trade, I traveled around Western Canada, Russia, and the Gulf of Mexico, working on industrial construction projects. Then, a year ago, my former chief instructor contacted me, asking if I would like to become an instructor. The rest, shall we say, is recent history. I became an instructor, and a PIDP student.


“Fluid Goose” photo by John Powszedny 2013

Staying Sane: 16 Maxims of Skillful Teaching (A Summary of Brookfield, 2015 – Chapter 20)

In my summary below,  I especially agree with # 11, “Acknowledge your personality.”  I do this frequently in class. I like to inject humor, and don’t take myself too seriously.  I was told I am informal (by a colleague comparing me to another colleague), which suits me fine.

  1. Attend to your emotional survival

    • Avoid metaphor “roller coaster of emotions”
    • Attend to personal emotional health – find way to navigate frustration, disappointment, or self-loathing
  2. Expect ambiguity

    • Context and contingency can distort any curriculum – expect ambiguity
    • Understand you will never be in total control – freedom to be spontaneously creative
  3. Perfection is an illusion

  4. Ground your teaching in how your students are learning

    • Inform your teaching choices
    • Research can take time, weekly assessments indicates what is happening
  5. Be wary of standardized models and approaches

    • Time wasted trying to find the holy grail of pedagogy
    • However much can be drawn from different models and approaches, mixed in with personal experience
  6. Regularly learn something new and difficult

    • Insights into what it feels like
  7. Take your instincts seriously

    • Teachers are the experts in their own situations
    • Do not always assume the textbook is correct
  8. Create diversity

    • Every workshop should have at least three different learning modalities
    • This will allow different learners to adopt the model preference of their choice
  9. Don’t be afraid to take risks

    • Think of a good educational experience as resembling a good conversation, which cannot be predicted in advance, and is not boring
  10. Remember that learning is emotional

    • Lost innocence, self-esteem issues, anger, resentment
    • Remember emotionality of learning will help keep your emotions under control when receiving negative evaluations
  11. Acknowledge your personality

  12. Don’t evaluate yourself only by students’ satisfaction

    • Some hostile student evaluations are inevitable; only universally hostile evaluations indicate a real problem
  13. Remember the importance of both support and challenge

    • Dilemma of balancing support for the students’ learning and challenging them to go further
    • Criticizing as a method of challenging can have long term negative effects
  14. Recognize and accept your power

    • The instructor has power of the grade that may control a part of the student’s destinies
    • Use the power to model publicly your own commitment to the kinds of learning you wish to encourage in students
  15. View yourself as a helper of learning

    • By definition, to teach is to help someone to learn
    • Writing, developing, even software developers
    • Find ways to promote day-to-day incrimental gains in learning
  16. Don’t trust what you’ve just read

    • Constantly be on the lookout for new insights and ideas
    • You are the ultimate expert on your own experience
    • Continuously making mistakes and learning from them makes for good teaching

A Final Thought on Brookfield Chapter 20

I can personally relate to all of these maxims. The ones that resonate with me the most are #11 “Acknowledge your personality” and #16 “Don’t trust what you’ve just read”.  Brookfield did a good job of summing up the entire book in this final chapter with many words of wisdom. It made my own experience seem more normal.


Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher – On Techniques, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (3rd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


PIDP 3260 Week 6 Blog

Featured image by John Powszedny 2008

Summary of Chapter 6 “Lecturing Creatively” (Brookfield, 2015) – My comments in bold italics

  • Often, lecturing methods mishandled by some teachers does not mean the method as a whole is inherently flawed
  • Contrast between lecturing and discussion;
    • Lecturing combines moral sensitivities of Caligula and democratic impulses of Stalin – Funniest statement in the chapter
    • Using discussion only forces teachers to choose between mutually exclusive options
    • Discussion leader can manipulate – Counterfeit discussions (Paterson, 1970)       Reminds me of the US presidential debate monitors. Which reminds me, I need to update my prediction. Old whatshisname is tied with Hillary at the moment.
    • Two methods should be seen as symbiotic
  • Lectures unifying characteristic is sustained periods of teacher talk:
    • May be highly sequential to the higher concepts or begin with concepts and work backwards to previous understandings
      • Students look for clarity and cues that stress important points
    • May be improvised
      • Theatrical, debate, problem of the day
  • Purpose of lectures:
    • To establish a broad outline of a body of material
    • To explain, with frequent examples, concepts that learners struggle to understand
    • To introduce alternatives, perspectives and interpretations
    • To model intellectual attitudes and behaviors you wish to encourage in students – This is relevant to me when I am teaching safety and best practices of the trade
    • To encourage learners’ interest in a topic – This is relevant to all instructors
    • Clarity, goals, connections to previous learning
  • Characteristics of helpful lectures (Race, 2001; Brown and Race, 2002; Hepner, 2007)
    • Use a variety of teaching and communication processes
    • Are clearly organized so students can follow the thread of the lecturer’s thought
    • Model the learning behaviors expected in the course
  • Use a mix of teaching and communication approaches
    • Deliberately introduce periods of silence
    • Introduce buzz groups into lectures
      • What is the most contentious statement you’ve heard so far in lecture today?
      • What is the most unsupported assertion you’ve heard in the lecture so far?
      • What assumptions do you see as underlying the arguments made so far?
      • What’s an example of theory A?  – I really cannot see this being practical in one of my lectures. Maybe a lab 
  • Lecture from Siberia – part of the classroom furthest away from the teacher’s body (Moscow to Siberia)
  • Use spatial separation for “speaking in tongues” ie different viewpoints
  • Break lectures in 10-15 minute chunks that deal with separate ideas – Good idea
  • Use clickers and other classroom response systems
  • Social media – No thanks. I have too many other things to do than Twitter updates on my class
  • Organize lectures so students can follow the lecturer’s train of thought
  • Provide scaffolding notes (summaries of main headers) – Good idea
  • Give clear verbal signals (Bligh, 2000)
    • Global signals – for new material or change in direction
    • Key point signals – most important points
    • Local signals – sub-points
    • Aside signals – branch into point not central to main themes
    • Example signals – tell students that an idea will be illustrated
    • Meta-review signals – tell where you are in the lecture lesson plan  – Very important to be mindful of. Sort of like steering the class. Keeps the instructor and learners on the same path
  • Modeling learning behaviors
    • Begin every lecture with a question or questions that you’re trying to answer
    • End every lecture with a series of questions that your lecture has raised or left unanswered
    • Deliberately introduce alternative perspectives
    • Introduce periods of assumption hunting
  • Lecturing done well can provide students with a solid foundation of understanding that can then be extended or critiqued in discussions and assignments.
  • Well situated presentations can be critical to students’ development as learners

Final Thoughts on Chapter 6:

  • In my curriculum, the main themes are facts and not really debatable. Some of the ideas presented in this chapter are directed towards humanities or social studies. 
  • However I did agree with some points, such as beginning each lecture with a question and the signals.
  • I also agree that modelling attitudes in the classroom is relevant. Speaking from my experience, I want to be an example of safety and trades practices for the students to emulate.


Image by John Powszedny 2016

In the News: Loss of Accreditation

My predicted winner of the US presidential election, old whatshisname, had a little school called whatshisname university. Its website is down. Unfortunately whatshisname wasn’t allowed to call it a university or something like that. It made the news.


For more information on how to get rich, you could buy the book. For 28 bucks.  It’s yuuuuuge.



Closer to home, Trinity Western University lost its law school accreditation with the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the body governing lawyers in Ontario. This was due to the university having students and instructors sign a covenant banning homosexuality and extra-marital relations.

Anyways, the university appealed.


And the university lost the appeal.


Ontario represents over a third of Canada where the students’ credentials will not be recognized. Next stop, the Supreme Court of Canada. Still waiting for the BC and Nova Scotia appeal decisions.

Lawyers fighting lawyers over lawyer accreditation. The legal bills must be legendary.

For an alternative viewpoint, I found the below blog. Note that The Wintery (sic) Knight’s 2011 political map of Canada calls the NDP communists and the Liberals socialists. Just an educated guess – the Wintery Knight will vote for whatshisname.



Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher – On Techniques, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (3rd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Paterson, R. (1970). The Concept of Discussion: A Philosophical Approach. Studies in Adult Education, 1(2), 28-50.

Race, P. (2001). The Lecturer’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Learning, Teaching and Assessment. London: Kogan Page.

Brown, S., Race, P. (2002). Lecturing: A Practical Guide. Sterling VA: Stylus.

Hepner, F., (2007) Teaching the Large College Class: A Guidebook for Instructors with Multitudes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Bligh, D.A., (2000) What’s the Use of Lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass


PIDP 3260 Week 5 Blog

Brookfield Chapter 16, “Understanding Student’s Resistance to Learning”

“Trying to understand why and how students resist learning is probably something I’ve spent more time pondering than any other facet of my life as a teacher. For someone like me who tends to assume that everything that happens in the classroom is my responsibility, encountering student resistance is particularly troubling.” (Brookfield, 2015)

In this chapter, Brookfield covers many scenarios of students resisting learning.

A chapter summary:

  • Try to sort out the causes of resistance
    • Fear of change?
  • Ask yourself if the resistance is justified
    • Institutional policy?
  • Research your student’s backgrounds
    • Cultural, experience, ability, learning style?
  • When appropriate involve students in educational planning
    • Feasability?
  • Use a variety of teaching methods and approaches
    • Media?
  • Assess learning incrementally
    • Consequences for resistance are made clear as early as possible?
  • Check that your intentions are clearly understood
    • Expectations, agenda and rationales clear as possible?
  • Build a case for learning
    • Importance of skills learned?
  • Create situations in which students succeed
    • eg. Failure-proof task in first class
  • Don’t push too fast
    • Rhythm of learning
  • Admitting the normality of resistance
    • Formative student feedback?
  • Limiting the negative effects of resistance
    • Involving former resistors?
    • Role model?
    • Don’t force learning

I think the best advice was at the end of the chapter, where Brookfield suggests giving the hard-core resistors a group project together outside of the classroom. Good way to manage the classroom, in my opinion.

So chapter 16 has shed a little light on how I and other students have felt at times. We can be cranky, and sometimes there is little the instructor can do about it. But as an instructor who sees a small minority of rebellious students, I don’t want to fall into the vortex of Conversional Obsession.*

So yeah, thanks Brookfield, for showing me the way. I can accept the fact that every student is an individual with different reasons for being in the class. I pledge to become a little softer and gentler. And less sarcastic.

*  Conversional obsession is where the instructor becomes obsessed with converting a minority hardcore resistance-to-learn group into better students. This may be a pitfall for some instructors, as successfully converting resistors could be equitable to being a successful instructor.(Brookfield,2015)

Comment on an aspect of professional ethics. Does your field have a Code of Ethics? Does your workplace have a Policies and Procedures manual?

“A code of ethics document may outline the mission and values of the business or organization, how professionals are supposed to approach problems, the ethical principles based on the organization’s core values and the standards to which the professional is held” www.investopedia.com/terms/c/code-of-ethics.asp

Ethics are an important consideration whenever making an organizational decision. All stakeholders should always be considered.

My field of expertise, industrial instrumentation, is governed by Worksafe BC, ISA ethical standards, and specific workplace policies covering respectful workplaces and safety.

My particular workplace, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, has a set of policies that govern ethics.

Below is an excerpt from  Policy 1504 – Standards of Conduct and Conflict/Interest Policy http://www.bcit.ca/files/pdf/policies/1504.pdf

General Standards of Conduct

The conduct of employees must not bring the Institute into disrepute. Accordingly, employees must avoid situations which violate the standards of conduct policy or result in a public perception that a violation has occurred. If an employee becomes involved in such a situation, the employee must disclose the matter to the direct manager and remedy it immediately.

The conduct and language of employees in the workplace are expected to meet acceptable social standards. Employees in dealing with other persons in the workplace are to treat them with respect and dignity and to refrain from exploiting a work relationship for private advantage or benefit.

3. Confidentiality

Employees shall not divulge information received through their position or office which is not available to the general public unless prior authorization is given for its release. Where an employee has reason to believe that there exists a contravention of the law, a waste of BCIT funds or assets, or a danger to public health or safety, the employee shall bring the matter to the attention of the President through normal Institute channels, or directly if necessary. Where this does not resolve the matter, a complaint should be made in writing to the Board of Governors


Self Assessment of Blog to date

Use rubric, out of 5 marks, write a short rationale. Submit self assessment in the assignment submission area in Assignment 3

4.25/5.00   Level 3:

[ X ]   The blog postings demonstrate the author’s solid breadth and depth of thinking regarding ALL of the assignment topics

[ X ]  Contributions are weekly and reflect ideas and content outlined in the assignment

[ X ]  A range of media is evident throughout the blog

[ X ]  The writing is articulate, sophisticated and precise. A few mechanical errors are noted.

[ X ]  The blog has a professional look and feel

[ X ]  Creative commons logo is present



Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher – On Techniques, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom (3rd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.